Tennessee vs. Texas A&M preview: Betting trends, advanced stats analysis
Tennessee will be looking to win its 4th straight SEC road game on Saturday night as it travels to face Texas A&M in College Station.
The Vols are in the mix for the SEC regular season title while A&M is in desperate need of a big win to solidify its NCAA Tournament résumé. There’s plenty on the line as these teams meet for the first of 2 matchups in 2023-24.
Let’s break down the matchup:
Tennessee vs. Texas A&M Betting Odds
Spread: Tennessee -2 (DraftKings)
Total: 142.5 (DraftKings)
Betting trends to know for Tennessee
- 10-11-1 against the spread
- 9-8-1 against the spread as a favorite
- 2-4 against the spread on the road
- 5-4 against the spread in SEC games
Not much stands out from a trends perspective on Tennessee in this spot. The Vols are coming off back-to-back wins against the spread and are 2-1 against the number when favored by 6 points or fewer so far this season.
Betting trends to know for Texas A&M
Texas A&M is…
- 12-10 against the spread
- 3-2 against the spread as an underdog
- 3-8 against the spread at home
- 3-6 against the spread in SEC games.
Texas A&M has not been good in this spot so far this season. The Aggies are under .500 ATS at home and in SEC play. However, this is the first time this season that Texas A&M has been an underdog at home. Overall, A&M has covered the spread in just 3 of its last 11 games.
3 notes for the game
Dalton Knecht is Tennessee’s focal point, but not the only option
Dalton Knecht has turned into one of the nation’s best scorers during SEC play. That’s been especially true over the Vols’ last 8 games, as Knecht is averaging 29.3 points per game on 51% shooting from the floor and 43% shooting from long range during that span. In those 8 games, he’s scored 30+ points 4 times. Tennessee is 6-2 during this stretch.
The rest of Tennessee’s offense can be a little bit inconsistent. Against Kentucky last weekend, the Vols were hot. Tennessee scored 103 points against the Wildcats despite getting only 16 from Knecht. All 5 starters scored in double-figures and it was Zakai Zeigler and Josiah-Jordan James who led the way with 26 points apiece. Overall, Tennessee scored a staggering 1.39 points per possession in that game.
But the Vols went cold against South Carolina just a few days before that win over UK. Knecht scored 31 points against the Gamecocks, but the rest of the team combined for just 28 in the loss. No one else scored more than 10 and only 2 of Knecht’s teammates scored more than a couple of points. Knecht is as consistent as they come, but it’s tough to know what you’re going to get from the rest of this Tennessee offense.
Texas A&M survives — and thrives — on offensive rebounds
Texas A&M’s offense has one of the more unique statistical profiles in the country.
The Aggies rank 349th in effective field goal percentage, 287th in 2-point percentage and 358th in 3-point percentage entering Saturday’s game. And yet, Texas A&M also has a top-50 offense nationally, according to KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rankings. ShotQuality is even more bullish on the Aggies’ offense, ranking them No. 1 nationally.
How is this possible? Offensive rebounding. The Aggies are No. 1 — by a significant margin — in offensive rebounding rate nationally at 43.6%. Florida is the only other team in the country that has an offensive rebounding rate of at least 40%. Even so, the Gators are closer to the 19th-best offensive rebounding team (Baylor) than they are to Texas A&M in that department.
All of those extra possessions give Texas A&M a chance offensively — and so far this season, the Aggies have done a good job of taking advantage of their added opportunities.
Tennessee is middle-of-the-pack (168th nationally) as a defensive rebounding team. However, Tennessee didn’t have much of an issue with Florida earlier this season. The Gators had a strong day on the offensive glass against the Vols, bringing down 19 offensive boards. But Florida struggled too much offensively for it to matter and the Vols won 85-66 in Gainesville. It will be interesting to see how much of that experience will translate to Tennessee’s game against the Aggies.
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Can Tennessee force Wade Taylor into bad shots?
Offensive rebounds aside, Texas A&M’s best scoring threat is point guard Wade Taylor. He’s the only Texas A&M player with a usage rate over 30% so far this season, but he hasn’t been particularly efficient. Entering this game, Taylor has made just 30% of his shots from 3-point range and is at just 33.6% from a high-volume of mid-range attempts.
However, there’s reason for optimism on A&M’s side that Taylor is trending in the right direction. He’s been a much better shooter in SEC play after a slow start to the year. In the month of January, Taylor shot over 34% from downtown on more than 10 attempts per game. He’s also significantly better at home than he is on the road from 3-point land — 33% vs. 20%.
Forcing Taylor into difficult shots — and grabbing the ensuing rebound — will be priorities No. 1 and No. 2 for Tennessee on Saturday. The Vols have a strong defense that comes in at No. 5 in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rankings and at No. 13 per ShotQuality.
1 pick for this game
Wade Taylor under 20.5 points. As noted above, Taylor has been very inefficient so far this season given his high usage rate. He’s 2-for-11 from 3-point range in a couple of games so far in February and struggles to score when he’s not connecting on the long ball. Taylor has cleared this number in just 1 of his last 5 games. The lone exception was against Ole Miss, which statistically has one of the worst defenses in the SEC. This will be the 4th time Taylor has played Tennessee in his career. He’s only gone over 20.5 points once in the previous 3 meetings, and that performance was significantly boosted by a career-high 17 free throw attempts. I expect the Vols to do a better job of keeping Taylor off the charity stripe in this one.